Biden Leads G7 in Firm Support for Ukraine Amid Rising Political Tensions

President Joe Biden is leading the world’s richest democracies in sending a clear message to Russian President Vladimir Putin that the West will not abandon Ukraine despite political uncertainties. Biden meets Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky in Italy on the sidelines of the G7 summit Thursday, aiming to reinforce a promise he made last week on the Normandy battlefields. as reported by CNN.

“We will not walk away, because if we do, Ukraine will be subjugated and it will not end there,” Biden said, surrounded by the last surviving US veterans of D-Day and the graves of more than 9,000 of their fallen comrades. “Ukraine’s neighbors will be threatened. All of Europe will be threatened. … The autocrats of the world are watching closely to see what happens in Ukraine.”

Despite Biden’s commitment, there are growing concerns in Europe that he might just be a temporary break between two Donald Trump administrations. Trump’s term, ending in 2021, disrupted long-standing assurances that the United States would be a stabilizing force in transatlantic affairs, as told by AOL

On Thursday, Trump, demonstrating his control over the Republican Party, meets GOP House members and senators on Capitol Hill. This comes two weeks after Trump became the first former president to be convicted of a crime and less than five months before he asks voters to return him to the White House.

Biden’s deep investment in Ukraine will define his presidential legacy, but uncertainty over the West’s long-term commitment remains persistent. It is driven by changing political currents on both sides of the Atlantic that must worry Zelensky. In the US, Trump, who disdains Ukraine and admires Putin, could be less than five months from regaining the presidency.

Significant gains by far-right parties in European Parliament elections last weekend in France and Germany could complicate future European Union support for Ukraine. Moreover, Putin’s willingness to endure massive Russian casualties without facing political repercussions at home suggests the West might tire of the conflict before he does.

New initiatives from the US and its allies aim to ensure continued support for Ukraine and bring Kyiv closer to Western economic and defense structures. However, no US president can truly bind his successor to a course of action. The difficulties in passing the latest $60 billion US aid package for Kyiv through Congress highlight that future US support cannot be guaranteed, even if Biden wins in November.

New Western Plans to Support Ukraine

The latest Western plans to help Ukraine are significant:

  • Biden’s Return to Europe: Biden’s return to Europe three days after leaving demonstrates his proactive leadership of the Western alliance. Presidential travel is a clear indicator of priorities, closely monitored by allies and adversaries.
  • New Sanctions: The administration announced new sanctions on over 300 individuals and entities to cripple the economy supporting Putin’s war effort, targeting foreign financial firms and restricting Russian access to US technology.
  • Bilateral Security Pact: Biden and Zelensky are expected to sign a pact committing the US to train Ukraine’s armed forces for ten years and expand cooperation in armament production.
  • G7 Economic Support Package: The G7 summit is likely to approve a $50 billion economic support package for Ukraine, funded by interest on frozen Russian assets.
  • NATO Support: A new NATO package to be unveiled later this summer will institutionalize military support for Ukraine, although it will not provide a clear timetable for Ukraine’s entry into the alliance.

Challenges and Russian Advances

Despite these measures, Ukraine faces significant challenges. The latest battlefield assessment by the Hudson Institute notes “a worrisome trend” of incremental Russian gains in eastern and northeastern Ukraine. Russian attacks on civilian infrastructure have destroyed half of Kyiv’s electricity production capacity, raising concerns about Ukrainian civilians’ plight this winter, According to BBC.

Russia’s success in rebuilding its military has led some European officials to warn of increased threats to Europe’s territorial integrity. Wider US-Russia tensions are underscored by the arrival of Russian ships in Cuba, reminiscent of the Cold War.

Zelensky’s Frustration and Western Support

Zelensky’s frustration with the West’s delayed support is evident, as shown by Biden’s apology for the slow aid delivery during their D-Day event meeting. Despite Biden’s commitment, the US President’s critics argue he has only offered Ukraine enough to avoid losing the war, not to win it. John Kirby, the White House National Security Council spokesman, insists that Biden is determined to show Putin that time is not on his side.

However, political tensions, elections, and a steadfast Russian leader refusing to change course mean that the West will continually face questions about its commitment.